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Kent April 15, 2021

Concerns about changes to Sharon Hospital board

SHARON — The state Office of Health Strategies held a public hearing online on Tuesday, Feb. 16, about a request from Nuvance, owner of the hospital network that includes Sharon Hospital, to change the condition regarding the hospital’s board of directors.

Condition 2 of the Certificate of Need (CON) that applies to the hospital (dated April 1, 2019) currently requires Nuvance to “allow for twelve (12) community representatives to serve as voting members on the Sharon Hospital Board of Directors.” This agreement is in force for five years following the closing of the agreement.

Nuvance is asking that Condition 2 be modified to this: “For five (5) years following the Closing Date, NewCo shall allow for one (1) community representative to serve as a voting member on the Sharon Hospital Board of Directors.

The request notes that Condition 2 has not been previously modified, and states, “Sharon Hospital has a community board and will continue to have one going forward. The Sharon Board has a nominating committee that considers recommendations for new members from time to time based on identified needs and geographic representation. The Nominating Committee is a standard group that almost all nonprofit boards have to ensure appropriate vetting and consideration of proposed members.”

Lisa Boyle, an attorney representing Nuvance, said the request is to apply the same conditions existing for other Nuvance hospitals to the Sharon Hospital board.

She said the Sharon board would continue as a “community board.”

Rick Cantele, chair of the Sharon Hospital board, said if the request is granted, nothing would change in the composition of the board, which has 12 members.

They are: Cantele, Dr. John Chard, Dr. Margaret Coughlan, Dr. Randall Dwenger, Pari Forood, Hugh Hill, Joel Jones, Mehrdad Noorani, Kathryn Palmer-House, James Quella, Kenneth Schechter and Miriam Tannen.

Condition 2 currently states board members be nominated by the Foundation for Community Health, which is no longer in that role. Cantele said the board has a nominating committee.

Boyle pointed out that with the Foundation for Community Health no longer involved, the circumstances under which Condition 2 was written have changed.

The hearing then went off the record for about 15 minutes.

Cantele said that board members are nominated for their “skill sets,” areas of expertise, and to some extent by where they live. He noted that three of the most recently appointed members are doctors.

Members of the public had questions and comments. Victor Germack said the changes would result in a board that is “self-selecting.” 

He urged that the Save Sharon Hospital group be involved in the nomination process.

Lydia Moore said if the changes were approved, the community at large would have less representation on the board.

Several other people expressed reservations about the board’s request.

Pari Forood, the vice chair of the board, pushed back, saying the current board members do represent a broad cross-section of the community.

To view a recording of the Feb. 16 hearing, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLsBKav8ii4.

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